About the Book
Publication Date: May 30, 2017 | Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult | Rating: 4.5 stars
Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.
Eliza and Her Monsters was one of those books that I picked up because of the hype around it. I heard such rave reviews about the mental health representation in this book that I really wanted to give it a chance, but I have to admit that I was afraid I would be disappointed. I’m happy that wasn’t the case. I buddy read this book with my bookstafriend @corymareads. It was my first buddy read…EVER and I’m happy we choose this book.
Eliza and Her Monsters is about Eliza Mirk, high school student by day and fandom queen by night. As the synopsis indicates, Eliza is an artist, shy, and friendless. Most of the students at her school find her weird because of her appearance and she doesn’t speak. Meanwhile, Eliza is a goddess on the internet. She’s the creator of Monstrous Sea, an online webcomic that she pours her heart into. Eliza prefers to exist in her online world; however, her parents try to push her to make friendships and develop a social life in the real world. Things change for Eliza when Wallace Warland transfers to her school. Eliza soon learns that Wallace is the most popular Monstrous Sea fanfiction writer on her site. Eliza and Wallace strike up a friendship and we start to see Eliza’s offline life.
Eliza and Her Monsters was kind of a slow start for me. It took a few chapters for me to get into it but once I did, I didn’t want to put it down. This book was much more intense than I expected and I mean that in positive way. I didn’t expect to be pulled in and desperate to know what happens next. Eliza’s journey depicted a realistic portrayal of anxiety and online relationships. The characters were raw, authentic, and relatable. Zappia accurately depicted fandom culture, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
I loved the relationship between Eliza and her two online best friends as well as her relationship with Wallace. Wallace was a complex character and mysterious. The relationship between Eliza and Wallace was slow and intentional, unlike most YA romances. I savored the small vulnerable moments these two shared more because of that. Wallace’s background was completely unexpected and Eliza’s brothers were quite a surprise after Eliza’s secret as the creator of Monstrous Sea is accidentally share. I liked Eliza’s parents. It would have helped if they communicated more; however, you can tell how much they love her and want what’s best for her. Unfortunately, they don’t understand their daughter and miss the mark most times.
This book does so many things well that I don’t know which one to focus on in this review. One of the best things about this book is the mental health representation. I like that it was nuanced and not at all what we are used to in the media. I also liked that Eliza sought counseling and that there wasn’t a magical fix to everything. I think it was important for the author to show that being okay again will take time and that Eliza will have good days and some not-so good days. Another aspect of this book I enjoyed was the depiction of online friendships. Eliza’s parents represent an older generation who don’t understand social networking sites and the internet. They don’t quite get that you could make meaningful relationships and find your space online. The person I buddy read this book with is a friend I meet on Instagram. I’ve made other friends on social media. I have “real life” friends, but this doesn’t make those friendships any less important or meaningless. I like that Zappia explored this. I also liked that she tackled geek and fandom culture. The internet can be a beautiful and awful place. It’s beautiful when you find a community of people who share similar interests, but it can also be toxic and awful. I liked that Eliza and Her Monsters showed both sides of that.
While I loved this Eliza and Her Monsters, I did not love the writing for Wallace towards the end of the book. Wallace seemed like a completely different character in a few chapters towards the end and I was surprised by that. He seemed selfish and insensitive in those 2-3 chapters and I wished that wasn’t the case because that felt out of character. Up until that point, he was a well-written character.
Overall, Eliza and her monsters is beautifully written and one of the most honest books I’ve read this year. It was emotionally intense and relatable. I loved the character growth and that I could easily relate to Eliza’s anxiety in social settings and her introversion. Once you get pass the initial slow chapters, you’ll be hooked.
Thanks for reading!